LA Observed Notes: Sexual assault, media moves and more

lat-investigation-graphic-l.jpgScreen grab of LA Times graphic.

Our occasional column of media and politics notes, with other news and observations. From multiple sources and the LA Observed inbox. Previous notes.

At the top

Dirty money: Dozens of political donations totaling more than $40,000 have come from a rundown address in West Carson where no one is registered to vote. The common thread appears to be Samuel Leung, a Torrance-based developer who was lobbying public officials to approve a 352-unit apartment complex. More than $600,000 in all has been donated to Rep. Janice Hahn, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Joe Buscaino and other local politicians, says the investigation by LA Times City Hall reporters David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes.

danielle-berrin-jj.jpgSexual harassment: Last week, Jewish Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin (right) revealed "a sexual assault I suffered in February 2014 at the hands of a prominent Israeli journalist." Berrin didn't name the perp, but on Thursday Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit wrote that he was the guy — and that no sexual harassment was intended. "I felt that we had a friendly meeting that included, among other things, elements of courtship," he said. Berrin wrote that he grabbed her head and tried to kiss her during a late-night interview at his hotel. [Fixed: Not his hotel room.] "His claim is absurd," she wrote in a reply. "The only thing I wanted from Ari Shavit was an interview about his book." From Berrin's original post:

I’d agreed to meet him, an accomplished journalist from Israel, at his hotel around 10 p.m. He was in the United States only for 48 hours, and told me he was completely booked during the daytime. I believed him. Back then, the book he’d written was among several titles having an impact on the Jewish conversation, and many local community leaders wanted to meet with him. If I was going to be a part of this conversation, this was my opportunity. But almost as soon as I arrived and placed my recorder on the table between us, he put our interview on hold. “First,” he said, “I want to get to know you better.”

Now Shavit has resigned his journalism posts in Israel — after a second woman accused him of sexual harassment. Gabe Foreman of JTA: Why Ari Shavit’s fall from grace stings for so many American Jews. LA Times: After an L.A. reporter accused him of sexual assault, a top Israeli newspaper columnist steps down.

County intrigue: The Board of Supervisors secretly launched a public corruption investigation of retired county CEO William Fujioka two years ago, "examining his role in real estate dealings, a multimillion-dollar emergency communications project and other county business." The probe went nowhere and Fujioka called the whole thing another political attack by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Good story by LA Times county reporter Adam Elmahrek.

Chief Beck hurt again: For at least the second time since getting the top LAPD job, Chief Charlie Beck has been injured riding his beloved off-road motorcycles. This time he has a fractured pelvis. In 2012, he broke his collarbone riding motocross.

Unspeakable: Steve Lopez was on a homeless ride-along in Hollywood when he learned about a woman who has been homeless in the same spot for 15 years. "Raquel was the one who got to me.... I felt a mix of anger, sadness, shame." Column

Halloween note: Santa Monica Boulevard will be closed through the heart of West Hollywood on Monday night for the WeHo Halloween Carnaval. If you aren't going for the fun, avoid the whole area — traffic will be baaaad.

Media notes and good reads

Gabriel Sherman of New York goes inside what he calls the final days of Donald Trump's unmanageable, unrepentant and unprecedented campaign... Nate Silver's Sunday night update gives Hillary Clinton a 78.8 percent chance of becoming president. Trump is at 21.1 percent, based on 20,000 simulations... CNN's Brian Stelter decries the rise of fake news sites around the election. Also this: Facebook’s fake news problem won’t fix itself... Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron says in the Guardian: We took Donald Trump seriously from the beginning.... Baron was awarded the second Hitchens Prize, named for Christopher Hitchens... Harvard Business Review is cutting back to six print issues a year (from 10) and looking for new forms online... Prodigy sportswriter Jennifer Frey drank herself to death... NPR named its first general manager of podcasting.

Local angles: The LA School Report relaunched as part of Campbell Brown's The 74, including a Spanish-language version. Nieman Reports examines the move... KCETLink promoted Juan Devis, senior VP of content development and production, to be the the station's first chief creative officer... PBS SoCal is moving its technical operations from Huntington Beach to Bundy Drive in West Los Angeles. The station formerly known as KOCE has recently put some marketing and development people in Century City and some sales staff in downtown LA... Diane Weyermann, Sheila Nevins and Lisa Nishimura "shape the documentary world as we know it," says IndieWire's Anne Thompson.

Around the Timeses

onni-group-sign.jpgThe biggest news in LA Times land is that Gannett's deal to acquire Tronc publicly collapsed late last week and the stock value of both companies plunged. But analyst Ken Doctor says there may still be something happening. "All parties here have a powerful motivation to still get a deal done. [Especially] Patrick Soon-Shiong, the Los Angeles billionaire and Tronc investor" who has been in “advanced talks” to take an ownership interest in the Times... Remember in August when desk phones in the LA Times newsroom were rebranded with the Tronc name? Last week some mysteriously reverted to Tribune branding... The complex of newspaper buildings in DTLA formerly known as Times Mirror Square is sporting new external signage placed by the new owner, downtown developer Onni Group... Vanity Fair-bound film writer Rebecca Keegan's farewell note: "Thank you, beloved LA Times newsroom. Thank you to every copy editor who ever saved me from a correction, every line editor who ever fixed the nut graf, every photographer who came skidding in from a wildfire to shoot my portraits, every web producer who tricked out my stories, every writer and editor who made me think and made me laugh. This newspaper is a dang treasure."... Late add: Peter Jamison, the LAT's short-lived reporter assigned to Mayor Eric Garcetti, began today as a City Hall reporter for the Washington Post.

And in New York: The New York Times is charging $250 to attend Election Night Live, where readers can spend the evening with executive editor Dean Baquet, CEO Mark Thompson, political reporters, two members of Congress and others. "There will also be booze."... Baquet in the Financial Times: Cable networks are blurring the lines of news.... Metro desk investigations honcho Michael Luo left the NYT to be senior editor of investigations at the New Yorker.

Politics notes

LA Times reporter Chris Megerian writes that he was the first journalist to tell the Clinton campaign about the FBI director's letter regarding new emails. It was on the campaign plane, and the staff waited until celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz was done taking pics before informing Clinton... Trump has apparently gotten zero dollars in donations from his children and top surrogates, says Slate...In the three presidential debates, not a single question was posed to the candidates about their views on education... A complete list of LA Times endorsements for the election.... The City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee voted unanimously to approve a Frank Gehry-designed high-rise complex at Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards.

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People are talking about...

Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants list for 2016 went on the web last week and was in Sunday's edition of the Los Angeles Times. I believe that brings a $4.99 hit on print subscribers, who have to agree to several costly special issues a year no matter what price you negotiate for the paper. (Providence is again #1, but the news is that DTLA's Spring debuts on the list at #4.)... Chris Nichols, the author and modernist architecture activist, reports on Facebook that the Armet & Davis-designed former Penguin coffee shop at 1670 Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica will return to its original use as a restaurant. For 25 years it has housed a dental office... Christopher Hawthorne looks at the competing LA and San Francisco designs for a George Lucas museum.... Harold Meyerson on Stanley Sheinbaum, Tom Hayden and the end of an LA leftist era... Science covered a remarkable gathering of the pioneers of AIDS research. James Watson of double helix fame: “There’s no greater success story than the one we’re going to hear about today.”. Also: Patient Zero didn't bring AIDS to your town and the zero was a misprint.... Actor Patton Oswalt on the death of his wife and getting along.

Books and authors: Paul Beatty’s novel “The Sellout,” a blistering satire about race in America that is set in the Los Angeles area, became the first American winner of the Man Booker Prize... Skylight Books, the Los Feliz institution, celebrated 20 years over the weekend. Founder Kerry Slattery turns over the keys to general manager Mary Williams at the first of the year.

That timelapse of LA: From photographer Joe Capra, who worked on it for two years.

Media people doing stuff

Dana Calvo, the former Los Angeles Times reporter, is producing the new Amazon series "Good Girls Revolt," based loosely on Lynn Povich’s 2012 book, "The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace."... KCAL-9's Peter Daut posts to Instagram: "I traveled to #Denver to get the blunt truth about legalizing recreational pot. Catch my in-depth report tonight (Sunday) at 11pm on @cbsla!"... Kate Linthicum, the recently posted LA Times correspondent in Mexico City, has a piece in the New Yorker on touring struggling working-class America in 2009 with photographer Matt Eich.... Here are 43 journalism internships and fellowships listed in one place on the Poynter website.


One in three homeless people in Los Angeles County — more than 14,000 — are women. They face "staggering levels of violence, in shelters and homeless housing as well as on the streets." LA Times

Broken elevators at the Town House, the National Register of Historic Places landmark next to Lafayette Park that was once one of LA's grandest hotels, have forced aging residents, some disabled or using canes, to climb up to 14 stories. ABC7

Long Beach Airport lacks a long-term plan, and devising one could halt talks of an international facility. Press-Telegram

LA this weekend hosted one of the biggest championships in the world and you (probably) didn’t know it. Star-News

14 Instagram accounts that capture the beauty of LA. Los Angeles Magazine

pio-pico-and-family.jpgThe Life and Times of Pío Pico, Last Governor of Mexican California (right). KCET

Brian Lee, one of four children of LA's mega-office landlord Dr. David Lee, is opening a hipster spot in the Equitable Tower, the Wilshire address where the original Brown Derby stood. The Real Deal

Kobe Bryant was nearly late to his last NBA game because he was editing short stories. Quartz

Former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire talks about his cancer diagnosis. Daily News

Barry Socher, who played in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s first violin section for 35 years, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 68. Associated Press

Selected tweets


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